ANDERSON — Troy Taylor woke up early last week to the sound of his cellphone buzzing and quickly found a backlog of new voicemails.
The calls and emails continued throughout the day from people pledging support for the Anderson Legends, the North American Basketball Development Leagues Association franchise Taylor is prepping for its debut season.
“I enjoy that,” Taylor said. “Those are all people who want to see something positive happen here.”
The former Anderson High School and University of Evansville star has been busy for the past two weeks as he dips his toe into the waters of semi-pro basketball. But he’s been encouraged by the number of folks he’s found to lend a helping hand.
Add to their number the NBA-leading Indiana Pacers.
The franchise cut the Legends a deal on a block of 50 tickets to a March 17 game against the Philadelphia 76ers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse . The tickets will be sold for about $13 during Anderson’s inaugural game, likely on Feb. 22 against the Indianapolis Kings.
Taylor is hoping the tickets will provide a chance for area youth to experience the NBA, and he’s earmarking about 40 of the seats for kids. Those who purchase the tickets will get a VIP tour of the Fieldhouse following the game and a chance to meet some of the Pacers and visit their locker room.
In addition, the Legends will hold a drawing for 12 children under the age of 14 who will get the chance to go onto the court before the game and cheer the Pacers as they run onto the floor.
“I just want to be able to make a positive impact in the community,” Taylor said. “That’s my goal.”
The Legends will hold an open tryout Feb. 1 from 5 to 8:30 p.m. at Lapel Middle School.
Players can pre-register for the tryout at the Anderson Public Library from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at a cost of $60.
Registration the day of the tryout will cost $90 and must be completed prior to 4:30 p.m.
Among the names familiar to local basketball fans who will be helping Taylor run the tryout are former Anderson stars Shawn Teague, Kojak Fuller, Jovan McGraw and Norman Anderson.
Former Tribe head coach Ron Hecklinski and Geater Center director Willy Turner also will lend their expertise.
Spectators can attend the tryout for a cost of $2.
“I’m gonna get guys that can play,” Taylor said.
He’s thankful for the support of old friends like De’Ja Wills, the former Lady Tribe star whose Indianapolis connections helped set up the Pacers deal, and to new friends like the folks in Lapel who have been so willing to help set up the tryout.
Taylor was approached by several people with messages of support during Friday night’s Anderson High School game against Marion, and he’s even heard encouragement from strangers at the bank.
He was up until 5 a.m. Saturday morning returning emails from people willing to help in any way they can, including many from potential interns at Ball State.
“I can’t do this all by myself,” Taylor said. “A lot of people are excited about it. I’m excited, too.”